Is my four-year-old ready for school?
With September, and the start of the new academic year already on the horizon, many parents have a niggling question on their minds: Is my four-year-old ready for school? The thought of our little ones starting school is daunting. We are about to launch them into new environments, with new routines and a group of people they don’t yet know. They can’t read, they can’t write and don’t even mention counting!
Forget the ‘can’t dos’ and ‘don’t mentions’ (that’s our job, not yours) and instead concentrate on the more practical tasks below.
By this we mean putting on their coat and zipping it up, putting on their wellies for Woodland School, and changing for PE. At St Wystan’s, we don’t expect your child to arrive on day one as an accomplished changer; our Reception team will of course be on hand to assist. In the meantime, the strategies below will help to get your child on track before they start school.
– Break it down into steps. Changing clothes is complex so try to build a routine of what comes first, what comes next and so on.
– Demonstrate. Socks, gloves, winter tights, zips and buttons are all complex beasts!
– Allow plenty of time. Top speed changing is stressful for everyone so slow right it down. If you are running late, forget it.
– Practice. This can happen at any time and doesn’t have to be right before you leave the house. Most importantly, make it fun!
Sharing and Taking Turns
It sounds straightforward but the parent of any toddler will know it is not! Model the concepts often through everyday experiences, as well as through play. Talk through your own feelings when your little one does not share or take turns with you and give praise when they do. If you can make a start, our Reception team will to pick up on these skills once your child arrives at school.
At St Wystan’s, we provide a cooked lunch each day and our staff are on hand to help with food choices and cutting up food, when needed. An area to focus on at home, is supporting your little one to eat independently with a knife and fork. It is a tricky skill to accomplish and one that will only come with practice (some frustration!) and a lot of encouragement. Don’t give up – the sense of achievement for your child, when they make it, will be huge.
This includes wiping bottoms! Of course, there will be toileting accidents and our Reception staff will be on hand to help should it happen. However, the basic skills of being able to sit on the loo, wipe, dispose of the paper and flush should be there. Again, it is building routines and one that we will continue to reinforce – along with hand washing.
Recognising Their Name
We don’t expect your child to be able to write their name so don’t worry if they can’t. Instead, concentrate quite simply on helping them to recognise their name – a capital letter at the start, the rest in lower case. Leave the writing to us, it is what we do well.
Nurturing a Love of Books
Reading is a vital skill, and we want your child to enjoy it. Read often and widely. Talk about the patterns in the text and encourage them to join in with the bits they recognise and love. Read stories and poems, fiction and non-fiction. Follow their interests, introduce new ideas and different authors. Join a library, swap books with a friend! The more you read with them, the more comfortable your child will be with books. For us, a love of books is a great springboard into learning to read.
Our Reception starters are by no means experts at everything above and, at St Wystan’s, we don’t expect them to be. Have a go, keep trying and watch your little one flourish in their independence as they head towards Reception. In a nutshell, school readiness is most likely all the things you are already doing and nothing more. So, keep doing what you are doing and leave the rest to us. We hope to see you in September!
Ms Kara Lebihan
St Wystan’s is a small independent school with a warm family feel, situated in the heart of Repton village. Our friendly staff will be delighted to assist you with your enquiries about our Reception class, and our other year groups, Years 1-6.